18 April 2012

Work-Life Balance: The Missing Puzzle?

That annoying tone rings at 6.30am. Our hands shuttle towards the direction of the snooze button as if our fingers have sight of its own. We drag ourselves through the dreaded routine of getting ready for work and soon after, curse at the sweaty guy who squeezes himself into the already-packed commuter or the car that cuts into our lane while getting stuck in the usual morning traffic.

As if 9 hours of work is not enough, we go through the same routine back home, looking forward to a measly 3-4 hours of personal time before the same cycle starts and that annoying tone rings at 6.30am again.

It only takes a moment to wonder if there is light at the end of the tunnel. Or a carrot that hangs above the head of a donkey?

We all need Direction…

Be it for religious or personal reasons, one of the clues to achieving that perceived satisfaction in life or work is to know where we are headed to. Are we walking towards the source of where light is coming from or towards just any glimpse of light rays that seems to be promising?

Often times, it is hard to fathom what is at the end of the tunnel but the minimum we need is a direction. A direction and not path. Like Leo Babauta from ZenHabits wrote in his recent post about “how life is not about walking a path but more like surfing a sea”.

Therefore, companies who provide direction for its employees are geared for better performance than companies who offer the obligatory ‘work-life balance’ programs (activities, movies, time-outs, etc.) that do not actually help in any real way and might instead add on to the already hectic schedule.

Relational Support

The workplace can be a tricky one. But not for those who feel like they belong instead of one that is perceived to be a place where they ‘pay their dues’. The difference? It’s the people. Politics is an inevitable force but should be played down to a minimum. After all, everyone is on the same side at the end of the day from a bigger picture. Constant interaction among employees and a more genuine front is more inviting compared to the fake smiles and ‘faux concerns’ showed by coworkers.

However, this is probably hard to cultivate in the organization and it all boils down to the leader and the culture that is set from day one. Otherwise, all this seems merely like a mirage.

Passion is The Promise

Nobody knows the one solution that fits all but the closest to that will no doubt be Passion. It’s an element that seems to oil the rough gears of life and work, creating some sort of meaning to it all and ultimately; satisfaction.

As cliché as it sounds, loving what you do will not feel like a job but instead a self-gratifying effort and satisfaction. However, finding work that is one’s passion may be tough but from the little that is known, musicians enjoy what they do, artists embrace their ‘work’ and authors write their life.

Organizations need to find people who are truly passionate about their jobs and work towards building a team of people who are passionate about contributing to the direction of the organization.


The so called ‘work-life balance’ programs organized by companies do not actually help in any way but instead adds to an already meaningless cycle. Only a few are willing to peer into what it takes to create that satisfaction that employees seek.

After all, the term ‘work-life balance’ should not even exist in the first place if work is not viewed as something that is dreaded.

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